Billy Strange Tells The Story Behind Nancy Sinatra’s Hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”


In this video arranger Billy Strange talks about the recording session and the history behind the Nancy Sinatra hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”.

Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” was number 1 50 years ago. “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” hit number 1 on Billboard’s and Cash Box’s national singles charts on February 26, 1966. Besides Nancy’s great singing it was Billy Strange’s skills as an arranger and co-producer that made this song immortal.

In 2010 I talked to Billy Strange (1930-2012) for at his home in Franklin, TN, about ”Boots“ and he told me how he came up with the famous sliding bass intro played by Chuck Berghofer and why songwriter and producer Lee Hazlewwod didn’t want Nancy to record ”Boots“. You can watch the interview in the video above.

Billboard’s December 25, 1965 “Spotlight Singles” review of “Boots” recognized the hit potential of the song:

Having hit the Hot 100 chart with her ‘So Long Babe,’ Miss Sinatra has top of the chart potential with this fine folk-rock material from the pen of Lee Hazlewood. Her vocal performance and the Billy Strange driving dance beat should move this one rapidly up the chart.

More information about “Boots” on Nancy Sinatra’s website.

Billy Strange had a extraordinaire career as a guitarist, singer, recording artist, arranger, conductor, songwriter, composer and producer. He worked with Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. He also worked as a studio guitarist in Los Angeles in the nineteen fifties and sixties. Here you can find his huge but incomplete discography.

Billy Strange: September 29, 1930 – February 22, 2012

Billy Strange, about two years old

Billy Strange, about two years old

I’m still very sad about the passing of the great musician Billy Strange. Not was he only a wonderful guitarist, producer and arranger, he was also a great friend. A unique man: thoughtful, funny, clever, heardheaded and supportive. He had the greatness to let others shine on stage and on records.

Over the years I’ve met Billy several times. And the more I learned about his life and career, the more in awe I was. That’s why I started writing about him on this blog. Later I interviewed Billy on video. Two parts of this video interview were published by Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger (English with German subtitles):

Das unbekannte Genie hinter Elvis und Sinatra: Teil 1
Das unbekannte Genie hinter Elvis und Sinatra: Teil 2

Here is my farewell to Billy (in German):

Der Forrest Gump der Musikgeschichte

And here are some articles from this blog about Billy Strange:

Billy Strange talks about Nancy Sinatra

Billy Strange’s Fuzz Guitar Spices Up Ann-Margret Ballad

The Billy Strange Story of Chubby Checker Hit Song ‘Limbo Rock’

The Birth of a Beach Boys Song

The Forgotten Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood CD

Billy Strange instrumentals on iTunes

Working With Nancy Sinatra, Lee Hazlewood and Elvis Presley: Part II Of Billy Strange Video-Documentary

Nancy Sinatra and Billy Strange in the recording studio

Nancy Sinatra in the studio with Billy Strange.

Part 2 of my mini-video-documentary is now online: Billy Strange – Hit Maker.

Guitar-Legend and Master-Arranger Billy Strange Celebrates 80th Birthday

Nancy Sinatra, Billy Strange (middle) and Lee Hazlewood in 2003.

Today Billy Strange celebrates his 80th birthday in Nashville, TN. Here’s a video interview with Billy Strange I did. He talks about working with The Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Phil Spector and Nancy Sinatra.

Billy Strange helped the Beach Boys, Elvis, Frank and Nancy Sinatra and many others to make hits.

He was a number one studio guitarist in the music studios of Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s. You can hear his guitar on songs like “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, “Sloop John B.” and countless other Beach Boys and surf songs. He’s also famous for playing the haunting guitar on “Bang Bang”, the song that was used by Quentin Tarantino in “Kill Bill”. His arranging skills made songs like “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”, “Some Velvet Morning” and “Something Stupid” immortal.

Historische Gitarren unter Wasser

B.B. King's guitar damaged by Nashville flood May 2010

B.B. Kings Gitarre aus der Flut gerettet (Foto: Samuel M. Simpkins/The Tennessean)

Was haben die Gitarren von Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King,  Les Paul, Tommy Tedesco, Pete Townshend und Peter Frampton gemeinsam?

Das reissende Wasser hat sie alle am 1. Mai  in Nashville beschädigt. Die Instrumente gehören zur Sammlung des Museums Musicians Hall of Fame and Music, das kürzlich seine Räumlichkeiten wegen eines bevorstehenden Abbruchs verlassen musste. Deshalb wurden die Instrumente eingelagert. Unglücklicherweise liegt das Lagerhaus am Cumberland Fluss und wurde von der Jahrtautausendflut überschwemmt.

Hier ein Video von tennesean.com mit den beschädigten historischen Instrumenten: Musicians Hall of Fame instruments destroyed in flood.

Elvis Presley Was A Country Star

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Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock & Roll” actually was a country music star. Contradictory, isn’t it? No, it isn’t, claims music author Colin Escott in his article about Elvis published on the Country Music Hall Of Fame website. And he makes some good points.

The Secret Daughter of Country Singer Hank Williams

Country singer Jett Williams.

Jett Williams, daughter of Hank Williams (Photo: http://www.jettwilliams.com)

Hank Williams

When Hank Williams died lonely on the backseat of his Cadillac on January 1 in 1953, he not only left behind his son Hank Williams Jr..  He also left behind his unborn daughter Jett Williams, who saw the light of day five days after Hank Williams’ light ceased shining.

For 21 years Jett Williams had no idea that she was Hank Williams daughter. She grew up as an adopted child and it took her years to prove that she is Williams’ daughter. The thorough multimedia presentation Orphan Child Finds Her Place (The Tennessean) tells her moving story in detail.

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